Senator Lisa Baker today voted for a state budget for the 2007-2008 fiscal year that includes no new taxes, decreases the rate of spending growth, and funds important state programs.
Baker said the budget spares Pennsylvania taxpayers $2.5 billion in tax increases sought aggressively by the Rendell Administration – tax hikes that would have cost a family of four more than $800 annually.
“Gov. Rendell received none of the seven tax increases he sought, on everything from a sales tax hike, to energy use, employer health insurance and trash collection,” Baker said. “In addition, Republicans held core spending growth to 3.3 percent, continued the phase out of the capital stock and franchise tax, and set aside $300 million in surplus funds, ensuring a buffer against potential future shortfalls. From the beginning of this process, we insisted on fiscal restraint and no tax hikes– this budget reflects those priorities”
She added that the budget does fund important core programs, including education, health care and public safety. It also includes $450,000 to improve veterans’ outreach and assistance services throughout Pennsylvania. Baker championed the program as chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
Baker opposed passage of the gaming capital budget bill, which will provide hundreds of millions to projects in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties. “Gaming in Pennsylvania was passed with a promise of tax relief for our citizens – a promise I’m still waiting to see fulfilled. I cannot support funding convention centers and hockey arenas while the average homeowner is still waiting for property tax relief.”
Baker said she strongly opposed a mass transit funding bill – considered along with the budget – which will send hundreds of millions of dollars to transit systems in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, impose tolls on I-80 and do little to address regional needs.
“I cannot ask the people I represent to dig deeper into their pockets to pay tolls knowing full well that money will likely end up, one way or another, benefiting the cities and urban transit, while neglecting rural Pennsylvania.”
Contact: Brian Grove